Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Community say on future support for children and families

Joint Media Release with:

  • Nicola Roxon MP, Attorney-General Minister for Emergency Management

The Australian Government is calling for community input on the future directions of its $1 billion Family Support Program, with the launch of a discussion paper in Hobart today by the Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, and Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon.

“The Family Support Program is making a significant difference to the lives of children and families across Australia – assisting more than 800,000 Australians over the past year,” Ms Collins said.

“Here in Tasmania, more than 32,000 people were able to access the program’s specialist services, such as parenting programs, relationship counseling, playgroups and more intensive support for vulnerable children at risk of neglect or abuse.

“These services are improving family wellbeing, assisting parents to break entrenched cycles of disadvantage and helping to ensure children get the best start in life.

“The discussion paper will help tell us what the community thinks about the program and gives the professionals working in the sector a chance to provide their valuable input and advice.

“The Government will hold a series of consultation meetings across Australia early next year, after we have considered written submissions on the discussion paper,” Ms Collins said.

The Attorney-General said the Family Support Program included nine specialist family law services, including Family Relationship Centres, Family Dispute Resolution services and the Parenting Orders Program.

“The family law services provide a range of information, referral and support especially to meet the needs of separating and separated families,” Ms Roxon said.

“The Government also provides services that directly support children such as Children’s Contact Services.

“A review of the family law services is underway and it will help shape how these critical programs will look in the future.

“We want to ensure they are located in the areas where they are most needed and continue to meet the needs of separating and separated families.

“The family law services review will also play a part in determining the overall future directions of the Family Support Program,” Ms Roxon said.

Ms Collins said family support services can play a valuable role in keeping families together.

“The Government is committed to ensuring vulnerable children and their families receive the support they need to improve family wellbeing,” Ms Collins said.

“The Family Support Program is part of the extensive range of services the Australian Government funds to help reduce entrenched disadvantage in communities across the country.”

The FSP was established in 2011 to improve the coordination of services and to reduce red tape so service providers can spend more time doing what they do best – supporting children and families.

Family Support Program services are delivered by community organisations in about 2,300 locations across Australia.

The discussion paper and information on how to submit your views is available at Submissions close on 19 November 2012.